Agenda item

New Vision for Early Years Services Including Children's Centres in Peterborough


The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and provided the Committee with an update on the progress in implementing the proposals described in the document ‘A New Vision for Early Years, Including Children’s Centres in Peterborough.’  The report highlighted the following:


  • The progress made in securing tenants for the de-designated centres;
  • The process undertaken in determining appropriate tenants for the de-designated centres;
  • The progress made in developing the early years universal core entitlement delivered from each of the de-designated centres;
  • The new contractual arrangements for the delivery of the Children’s Centre Hubs and outreach activities with Spurgeons and Barnardos.


Observations and questions were raised and discussed including:


·         Members referred to the centre at Werrington and the Community Agreement and asked for detail regarding costs of services coming in. The Project Implementation Manager stated that the Head Teacher and School Governors at Welbourne Primary School would take on the full financial responsibility for the building and would use part of the building which was part of the children’s centre area to extend school provisions such as reconfiguring the reception class. Additional activities within the centre would be provided and some would be led by parent groups. The Peterborough Learning Partnership would also be based within that centre and provide some additional income. The Head Teacher had provided an effective business plan to ensure that there were no additional costs incurred to the school or the council. 

·         Members commented that some parents were confused as to what was happening. There was publicity suggesting that the Bretton Children’s Centre might be closed but that this was not the case. How were parents being kept informed?  The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services stated that none of the buildings would be closing as they were being funded by government money.  The buildings would continue to be used for much needed provision of children’s services some of which would be children’s centred type.  The Director for Communities added that there was continued dialogue with parents at each centre and there had been few complaints so far.

·         Members sought clarification on where the Pupil Premium would be spent in order to ensure that Pupil Premium from one centre were not being transferred to another. The Director for Communities informed Members that with regard to the Pupil Premium there had been discussions with primary schools about how the pupil premium is spent.  A number of schools had expressed an interest in taking on the centres in order to prepare children for primary school. The Project Implementation Manager stated that the Bretton Centre was always going to continue to deliver outreach activities via Spurgeons. 

·         Members asked if the services to be provided at the Stanground Centre would be run by a tenantor the council.   The Project Delivery Manager stated that the Portage Team would be transferred to the Stanground Centre.  The building was very small and there was already an Early Years provision being provided from the there.  However the appropriateness of the locality for that team would be reviewed over time.

·         Members referred to page 30 of the report and the mention of Highlees Academy and noted that under ‘Risks’ it stated: The academy will use the space to deliver on their priorities”.  Members were concerned that as more schools became academies that they were more likely to do what they wished to do and not what the Local Authority would like them to do. Was there a binding contract in place to deliver services? The Project Delivery Manager responded that the physical plans for Highlees Academy building show a red line around the part in the middle of the building which indicated that it was a Local Authority building. The council had entered into a lease arrangement with Highlees Academy in order to deliver the services as listed in the report.  There was a clear expectation that the school would deliver the entitlement as stipulated by the council in order to deliver the entitlement that communities have access to.

·         Members wanted to know if the Highlees Centre was open or if it had been closed. The Project Delivery Manager responded that activities were being offered at the Highlees Centre.

·         Members expressed concern that the report had identified risks against each centre and that this was mainly due to finances. The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services responded that parents were prepared to pay for additional services that they were looking for. An example was the Hampton Children’s Centre where they expected to charge for services in order to cover costs.

·         Members asked for clarity in how the schools would use Early Years funding and Pupil Premium funding to support the centres. The Project Delivery Manager stated that this responsibility would be delegated to Head Teachers to manage their budget so they could address the needs in their community. In terms of how this would work in practical terms, Head Teachers were clear as to how they would target particular groups. Each centre would operate differently in terms of how they would use the funding.

·         Members asked if any of the groups such as the Health Visitors made any contribution towards the costs of the centres. The Director for Communities responded that midwifery and Health Visitors did not pay for the space as it was part of the offer. If money was asked for from the Health Visitors this would lead to a reduction in the number of practitioners. The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services responded that during the consultation it had been discovered that the parents were most concerned about the continued link with Health Visitors and midwives.

·         Members noted that the report stated that full delivery of the New Vision for Early Years and Children’s Centres was expected in September 2014 but felt that this was too optimistic. They also asked how the centres which were not connected with schools would survive. The Project Delivery Manager stated that where the anchor tenants had not yet been secured the core services were being delivered and that would continue irrespective of what happened. The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services stated that communication was important and getting the information out and disseminated to all areas. Attendance varied from week to week at the centres and there needed to be an effort towards ensuring attendance remained high at the centres.

·         Members asked if there could be statistics provided on the number of website visitors and asked if a Facebook page had been made available. The Project Delivery Manager stated that there was a webpage which was currently being revamped and visitor statistics would be monitored.  There was no Facebook page but there was currently an active community Facebook page which had been used to communicate and provide updates.

·         Would the centres be communicating with each other and sharing good practice and ideas? Members were informed that one idea was to set up a network of Head Teachers that had the children’s centres offer within their buildings so that they could share good practice.




The Committee noted the report and requested that a further update be provided to the Committee in October 2014.


Supporting documents: